Edward Schiappa

Courtesy, University of Minnesota

A negotiation expert's view of the state shutdown

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT
  • Star Tribune
  • July 12, 2011 - 2:15 PM

What would an expert on negotiation advise the two parties to the political impasse that has produced a state government shutdown?

“I'd emphasize that neither side has a mandate,” said Edward Schiappa, professor in communications studies at the University of Minnesota whose research specialties include bargaining and negotiation.

Schiappa thinks both Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators go too far when they claim they have a voter mandate to raise taxes on the rich (Dayton) or reject all new taxes (GOP.)
“You just can't link votes to a specific policy preference,” the professor said, noting that voters choose a candidate for many reasons.
Elected officials hold political office, and “compromise is what politics are all about,” Schiappa said.  “I’d tell the first-termers that if they want to stick by absolute principles, they should join the clergy.
“A compromise should include elements that each side opposes but considers ‘worth it’ to accept for the larger deal. That means Republicans are going to have to accept some sort of increased revenue, and DFLers are going to have to accept some revenue sources they otherwise might not like,” for instance, a racino.
Schiappa considers the state’s situation very difficult, in part because it is not clear that both sides truly want to compromise. But it’s also an opportune moment, he said.
“This could be a shining opportunity for Minnesota to show that politics does not have to lead to disaster, and that we Minnesotans can act more maturely that the rest of the nation,” he said. “If they could pull it off it could be the new Minnesota Miracle.”
I’d consider that a hopeful note, were it not for this little detail: Achieving the first Minnesota Miracle in 1971 required a special session that lasted until Halloween. 
Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune columnist and editorial writer.

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